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The military prowess of Afonso de Albuquerque (1453–1515) allowed the Portuguese to take control of the sea routes to India.
The Portuguese could now trade directly with Siam, China, and the Maluku Islands.
The most exclusive was saffron, used as much for its vivid yellow-red color as for its flavor.
Spices that have now fallen into obscurity in European cuisine include grains of paradise, a relative of cardamom which mostly replaced pepper in late medieval north French cooking, long pepper, mace, spikenard, galangal and cubeb.
The most important discovery prior to the European spice trade were the monsoon winds (40 CE).
Sailing from Eastern spice cultivators to Western European consumers gradually replaced the land-locked spice routes once facilitated by the Middle East Arab caravans.